On March 15, County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his recommended $4.56 billion operating budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013 that begins July 1. Leggett’s budget strategically restores some of the most critical and important services that were cut back dramatically over the past five years as the County faced unprecedented budget challenges. Leggett’s approach to the FY13 budget attempts to balance the backlog of resident needs with the County’s new economic reality.
Below are the transportation priorities in the proposed budget:
A 10.4 percent increase for the Department of Transportation;
Hire more Ride On bus drivers;
Inaugurate three new RideOn routes:
South Germantown, connecting Richter Farm, Dawson Farm and the Soccerplex to the Germantown Transit Center;
Potomac and PARC Potomac; and
Gaithersburg, Watkins Mill extended.
Match Bikesharing grants;
Enhance residential road resurfacing programs;
Reduce the price for the second Call ‘N Ride coupon book by about five dollars; and
Enhance pedestrian safety programs, including additional contractor support for crosswalk markings and signs and marking materials.
New road maintenance projects by the Division of Highway Services (DHS) are beginning or are underway:
Windsor Knolls subdivision in Rockville began March 1.
Waring Station Road, from Wisteria Drive to Middlebrook Road, Germantown, will begin in early April.
Emory Lane, from Muncaster Mill Road to Georgia Avenue, Olney, began the week of March 19.
Harmony Hall subdivision in Damascus began March 23.
Paving projects will take three to four weeks to complete. DHS will patch areas of distressed pavement; mill the roadway surface, removing one to two inches to improve drainage; make utility adjustments; seal cracks; repave the road using hot mix asphalt; and restore the lane markings.
DHS is also doing concrete curb, gutter, and sidewalk repairs. While DHS is in the neighborhood, residents can take advantage of discounts for concrete work repairs to driveway aprons (the portion of the driveway that is within the public right-of-way) and lead walks (the sidewalk from the edge of the road to a homeowner’s property line).
Projects beginning in March or April will take about eight weeks to complete:
Greencastle Lakes community in Burtonsville
Plyers Mill Estates community in Kensington
Veirs Mill Village community in Silver Spring
Decatur Avenue in Kensington
The sidewalk and curb work involves removing and replacing damaged sidewalks and ensuring that curb ramps are accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, removal and replacement of damaged and misaligned curbs and restoration of disturbed areas with soil, grass seed and straw mulch.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Engineering and Operations, installed a median fence along Randolph Road, between Veirs Mill Road and Colie Drive, to improve pedestrian safety. This section of Randolph Road is located in an area of the County targeted for pedestrian improvements because it experiences a higher number of collisions.
The fence provides a barrier that discourages people from crossing the road in the middle of the block, encouraging them instead to cross at intersections with traffic signals. A similar median barrier was installed late last year on Randolph Road, west of Veirs Mill Road near Selfridge Road.
Installation of the new fence was coordinated with the Division of Highway Services’ Tree Maintenance Section. Staff removed several trees from the median that were in poor health and replaced them with a dozen new trees.
In March, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Division of Parking began a three-month pilot project in Bethesda to test parking meters that expand payment options for parking customers. Forty-one new meters were installed on Norfolk Avenue between Woodmont and Del Ray avenues that accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discovery credit cards in addition to coins and pay-by-cell phone payments.
The meters, which are solar-powered, have real-time communication capabilities that allow web-based identification of broken meters and immediate processing of credit card transactions.
The meters are being provided at no charge to the County during the test period. In early June, the new meters will be removed and the original meters will be reinstalled. At that time, MCDOT expects to have enough information on the viability of the system to possibly advertise for a contractor to replace most of the County’s on-street meters with ones that accept credit card payment.
For those who have used the new meters, an online survey is available to provide the Division of Parking with feedback. For more information about the parking meters, go to the County’s website.
Montgomery County’s Ride On bus service will sponsor its 25th annual Give and Ride food drive this year from Sunday, April 22, through Saturday, April 28. Passengers who donate canned or nonperishable food, diapers, or other needed items receive a free bus ride. Others can participate by placing donated items in food collection bags in any Ride On bus.
The Give and Ride Campaign helps needy families throughout Montgomery County. The donations go to Manna Food Center, Montgomery County’s food bank. Demand for help remains at record high levels, increasing nearly 10 percent over last year.
This spring, work will begin to rehabilitate the pedestrian bridge over Old Georgetown Road, between Woodmont Avenue and Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda. Built in 1999, the bridge is about 90 feet long. It connects the Bethesda Place Development to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, the Metropolitan Apartments, an 1,100 space public parking garage, and other facilities.
The bridge will be cleaned and painted and needed structural modifications will be made.
Work to the approach portion of the bridge will include repairing the fascia girders and replacing the cladding and railing support system. The connection to the concrete building at the east end of the approach bridge will also be replaced. On the truss bridge portion, a new drainage system will be installed; concrete pavers will be replaced with stamped lightweight concrete; and the expansion joint at the interface between the truss bridge and the approach bridge will also be replaced.
The project is expected to take eight months to complete. Pedestrian access will be available at all times during construction.
From July 1, 2011 through February 2012, Ride On ridership has increased by 2.5 percent, compared to the same period during the previous period.
In January, ridership trended higher by 1.4 percent, compared to the same month in 2011.
In February, ridership increased by 10.4 percent compared to the same month last year. Even taking into consideration that there was an additional day this February due to Leap Year, there was still an increase in average weekday ridership, which jumped to 90,708 riders. February is traditionally a low ridership month.
For information about Ride On, visit the website or call 311 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Montgomery County’s latest effort to provide the most up-to-date information related to BRAC construction projects, community involvement and other news items now extends to Twitter. Follow details @BracMoCoMD. Or, continue to check the latest happenings on the County’s BRAC website.
BRAC is the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act that generated the closure of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and its relocation to the campus of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. These two iconic hospitals were consolidated this fall as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (NMMC), the crown jewel of military medicine serving our nation’s active, wounded, and retired uniformed personnel.
The good news is that this move has brought over 2,500 jobs to the facility. The challenge is that visits to the NMMC are expected to increase from 500,000 a year to nearly one million. The result is even more traffic on an already congested Rockville Pike.
Montgomery County has been working closely with the State of Maryland to address the impact, including plans to construct projects at key intersections, improved pedestrian and bicycle access, and ensuring safe and efficient pedestrian access at the Medical Center Metro station. Stay informed about all these projects on the website and Twitter.
On Tuesday, April 10, the Division of Transportation Engineering (DTE) will host a public meeting to solicit community comment on the Forest Glen Passageway Feasibility Study.
DTE is studying the feasibility of building either a pedestrian tunnel or bridge at Georgia Avenue and Forest Glen Road, providing safer access to the Forest Glen Metrorail Station, Holy Cross Hospital and its offices, Montgomery Hills Baptist Church and nearby neighborhoods. The meeting will take place, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sligo Middle School in the cafeteria, 1401 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring.
The intersection of Georgia Avenue at Forest Glen Road has one of the highest roadway traffic volumes in Maryland. From 2005 to 2009, pedestrian-related crashes at this intersection were almost four times the statewide average.
In late 2008, the Montgomery County Council approved funding for the design of the new Forest Glen Passageway. Its construction has not been funded. MCDOT is seeking federal funds to help with the construction costs.
Barnesville Road was closed in early March due to a culvert failure that undermined the road at Bucklodge Creek, near the intersection of Peach Tree Road. Highway Services crews are replacing the 60-inch culvert pipe and repairing the roadway.
All work should be completed and the road reopened to traffic by mid-April, weather permitting. For information, call 311 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In mid-March, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) began preliminary utility and pole relocation work that requires periodic closure of the right lane of southbound Maryland Route 355 (Rockville Pike) between Cedar Lane and North Drive. The closures will occur weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Weather permitting, work is expected to be completed by mid-May.
The preliminary work is in preparation for a $9 million Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) utility improvement project in Bethesda that will be constructed by PEPCO.
Maryland has a 511 traveler information system that can be accessed by calling 511, 1-855-GOMD511, or by visiting: www.md511.org for up-to-date travel information. Drivers can also sign up to personalize travel route information through MY511.
Drivers are reminded that Maryland law restricts hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.
On May 18, commuters will have the opportunity to participate in the Washington area’s annual Bike to Work Day celebration and show their support for bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work. Bike to Work Day is a free, non-profit event that encourages commuters to try bicycling to work as an alternative to solo driving.
Go online to register for this event and get more information. Learn about the 58 pit stops throughout the region, commuter convoys, how to find a ride buddy or become a sponsor.
Participants who pre-register will receive a free tee-shirt, refreshments, and a chance to win bicycles and other raffle prizes. Tee-shirts are available at the pit stops and are limited to the first 11,000 who register.
Serious injuries sustained by pedestrians while listening to headphones have more than tripled in six years according to ConsumerReports.org, January 17, 2012, as reported in the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. The study was published in “Injury Prevention.”
Between January 2004 and June 2011, pedestrians wearing headphones experienced 116 deaths or injuries. Most of the incidents occurred in urban areas, and the average age of the victims was 21. About two-thirds of the victims were male (68 percent) and under 30 years old (67 percent).
As reported on WTOP.com on March 12, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a study that found that seniors over 75 years of age are some of the safest drivers on the road.
In the three-year study, the IIHS found drivers over the age of 75 posted a 45 percent drop in fatal accidents per miles traveled – more than any other age group. However, according to the study, drivers over 85 years of age had a higher rate of deadly accidents than any other age group, except teenagers.